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Debt ceiling agreement 'essential' to prevent disruption of care for Medicare & Medicaid patients
Date:7/7/2011

of different treatments, taking such research into consideration in making Medicare and Medicaid coverage decisions, reforming payment and delivery systems to align incentives with the value of care provided, and encouraging innovation at both the federal and state levels in delivery services to Medicaid patients while preserving the existing guarantee of coverage for all lower-income persons.

The letter noted that internal medicine specialists typically have 40 percent or more of their patients enrolled in the Medicare program. If an agreement to increase the debt ceiling isn't reached by August 2, the government would experience a cash shortfall of tens of billions of dollars, making it impossible to meet its many obligations, including reimbursing physicians for services provided to Medicare and Medicaid patients. "The government's cash flow shortfall would become a critical cash flow shortfall for physician practices, causing some of them to lay off staff, limit how many Medicare and Medicaid patients they can see, or even go under and close their doors," Dr. Hood pointed out.

An agreement must also include a fiscally-responsible solution to the Medicare Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula to ensure beneficiaries' access to care. Last week, ACP joined more than 100 national and state physician membership organizations in signing a letter that noted that "a credible budget agreement cannot include a Medicare budget baseline that assumes draconian physician payment cuts of almost $300 billion failure to enact a permanent solution to the SGR."

The College also called for a reduction in the rate of growth in federal spending on Medicare and Medicaid. "Medicare and Medicaid spending will need to be reduced as part of a fiscally-responsible agreement on the debt," Dr. Hood pointed out. "We are concerned, though, if a debt ceiling agreement would mandate cuts in programs that are clearly designed to improve access, quality, a
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Contact: David Kinsman
dkinsman@acponline.org
202-261-4554
American College of Physicians
Source:Eurekalert

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